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Baker v. Bartlett

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Southeastern Division

August 5, 2016

SHAWN BAKER, Plaintiff,
v.
UNKNOWN BARTLETT, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          STEPHEN N. LIMBAUGH, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff, a prisoner, seeks leave to proceed in forma pauperis in this civil action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Having reviewed plaintiff’s financial information, the Court assesses a partial initial filing fee of $1.80, which is twenty percent of his average monthly deposit. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b). Additionally, the Court will dismiss several of the defendants from this action.

         Standard of Review

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), the Court is required to dismiss a complaint filed in forma pauperis if it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. To state a claim for relief under § 1983, a complaint must plead more than “legal conclusions” and “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action [that are] supported by mere conclusory statements.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). A plaintiff must demonstrate a plausible claim for relief, which is more than a “mere possibility of misconduct.” Id. at 679. “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. at 678. Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief [is] a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense. Id. at 679.

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff is incarcerated at the Southeast Correctional Center (“SECC”). Plaintiff alleges that on September 11, 2014, he covered the security camera in his cell with wet toilet paper so that he could have privacy while using the restroom. Afterward, he was given a conduct violation for destruction of property. Plaintiff denies that any damage was done to the camera.

         Defendant Bartlett found plaintiff guilty of the charge, but he did not order plaintiff to pay restitution. Defendant Price, the Acting Functional Unit Manager, reviewed the decision and modified it so that plaintiff was required to pay $317.00 in restitution for damage to the camera. It is unclear whether plaintiff was given notice or a hearing to object to the fine.

         Defendants Hanesbrink, Wallace, and Lombardi denied plaintiff’s grievances on the matter.

         Discussion

         The removal of funds from a prisoner’s account without due process might state a claim for relief under § 1983. See Montanez v. Boyd, 344 Fed.Appx. 833, 835 (3rd Cir. 2009). As a result, the Court will order the Clerk to serve process on defendant Price.

         “Liability under § 1983 requires a causal link to, and direct responsibility for, the alleged deprivation of rights.” Madewell v. Roberts, 909 F.2d 1203, 1208 (8th Cir. 1990); see Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 676 (2009) (“Because vicarious liability is inapplicable to Bivens and § 1983 suits, a plaintiff must plead that each Government-official defendant, through the official’s own individual actions, has violated the Constitution.”). Plaintiff has not pled facts showing that defendant Bartlett intended for plaintiff to be fined. As a result, the complaint fails to state a claim against him.

         “Only persons who cause or participate in the [constitutional] violations are responsible. Ruling against a prisoner on an administrative complaint does not cause or contribute to the violation.” George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 609 (7th Cir. 2007) (citations omitted). Therefore, the complaint does not state a plausible claim against defendants Hanesbrink, Wallace, or Lombardi.

         The complaint fails to state a claim against the Missouri Department of Corrections or SECC because they are not subject to suit under § 1983. E.g., Barket, Levy & Fine, Inc. v. St. Louis Thermal Energy Corp., 948 F.2d 1084, 1086 (8th Cir. 1991) (agency exercising state power is not “person” subject to § 1983 suit). As a result, the complaint is dismissed as to these defendants.

         Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff’s motion to proceed in ...


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